Somewhere along the way of moving to Thailand, my trusty cast iron skillet turned rusty. That is a shame, because I really like cooking with it. However, I adapted to not having it in my repertoire of pots and pans. Recently, though, I’ve been thinking that there’s no point in letting it return to the elements. With my induction stove, I really should be using quality pans like this one.
This weekend, after reading up about cast iron restoration methods on the internet, I set aside some time Saturday morning to rescue my pan from oxidation oblivion.
The process proved surprisingly simple. Had I known how simple it was, I wouldn’t have waited so long.
Tools needed: gloves, metal scouring pad, coarse salt, vegetable oil, warm oven.
I started with the metal scouring pad and scoured the surface of the pan to remove most of the rust particles. This only took a few minutes and would have been even easier if I had also used some sandpaper.
After wiping the particles into the trash, I heated the pan for a few minutes with two tablespoons of vegetable oil. I then added enough coarse salt to make a paste, scouring with the metal pad to remove more of the rust and to scour down to a smooth surface.
Next step was to wipe the pan with paper towels until the towels no longer stained brown. This took a lot of paper towels, but eventually they came out clean. I did one last wipe with a damp paper towel to make sure no salt residue was in the pan, then popped it into the oven for just a few minutes.
Below: Tawn captures the look of extreme concentration on my face while I scour.
After a few minutes drying in the oven, I added another tablespoon of oil and, using paper towels, spread it in a thin, even film all over the surface and sides of the pan.
I then returned the pan to the oven (at about 300 F) upside down and let it bake for an hour, until the oil “set” on the pan. From here on out, it is no soapy water to clean this pan. Wipe it out with paper towels, use a little salt if scouring is needed, and then apply another thin film of oil. Over time, it will become a strongly seasoned pan that should be nearly as nonstick as anything at the store.
How’s that for a handy weekend?
I won’t have been surprised if you managed to squeeze this in on your trip to Japan. I didn’t realize you had to oil the outside too. I think there’s still one at my dad’s place that no one uses. Maybe I’ll rescue that. (or just ship it over for you to restore).
@ElusiveWords – We offer quality service, quick turnaround and reasonable prices. LOL
1 question…Are…are your crurals that big?! o_OOk, back to the post…my co-workers and I were just talking about this kind of pan on friday…I didn’t understand what seasoning the pan means till now…heh…
I learned something from this although I do not have a iron pan. So show us how you cook with a seasoned pan sometime please. Yummy. BTW, I noticed on your t-shirt, it says, “the World’s Most..” wonder what the rest say, as my imagination is running wild, lol, teasing you.
You make everything sound so simple!
looks interesting, but seems like way too much work. but then again, i haven’t tried using a cast iron skillet before.
I add a third step which is to bake with salt/oil then scour again. Either way looking at your pictures it looks like it’s good job. Enjoy!
@Wangium – Okay, had to Google that. You mean my calf muscles? The camera angle probably distorted the legs a bit, but I do have pretty good calves. And thighs and glutes for that matter. That’s why cycling suits me, as does tennis and balancing poses in yoga. I think Kenny asked for a picture of my legs some time back, so this is for him. LOL
@stevew918 – The answer is here.
@Dezinerdreams – It actually is that easy. Had I known, I would have done it a long time.
@LostSock21 – Yes, I suspect I may need to repeat the bake/scour steps a few times. We’ll see.
@icebladz – Cast iron retains heat wonderfully so you can use it to sear meat on the stove top and then place the same pan directly in the oven to finish roasting. This sear-then-roast method creates steaks and chops with a wonderful crust on the outside without leaving the interior undercooked.
That’s right, calves.I am beginning to forget words and had to look up thesaurus…….. I have big calves too. I drew a lot of attention when traveling in China.There were people walking behind me pointing at my calves when I was in the country side because they’ve never seen people with such large calves
Very nice. 🙂
Wow! Who would think that it would be that easy??? We have a cast iron skillet that we use all the time. I’d be pretty devastated if we couldn’t use it anymore due to rust. I’m glad to know that it’s relatively easy to restore the skillet 🙂
Tawn’s photo of you is fantastic, you handsome devil. Good looking and handy too. What a catch! xo
Wow. I’m always afraid to purchase cast iron. After watching an old Martha Stewart episode when I was younger, I was scared of the maintenance. Glad you could restore your pan!
Wow that WAS a handy weekend! I agree that that was a great picture of you that Tawn took!
How long did it take you overall?
Yeah Chris… that’s what was needed. did you have a question on your blog before about how to restore it? If you did, I missed it. Much of my cooking and frying, I do in castiron cook ware. Soap is an absolute no no to them. I am glad that you restored it so effeciently.
Bill uses our cast iron pans a lot too. I wonder if your pan is more prone to rusting because of the more humid climate?
@Wangium – At least they weren’t poking your calves with a stick!
@yang1815 – Thanks. Have any pans that need to be reseasoned?
@TheCheshireGrins – Yes, but while it is easy, don’t ever let it get to that point. A good seasoning takes a long time to re-create.
@minhaners – I would encourage you to try one out. They’re fantastic.
@albertmoore – No comparison to you!
@doiturselfer – Thanks. Overall, it was about 30-40 minutes of active time followed by an hour or so of letting it bake. I actually put it back in the oven yesterday as the surface was still tacky.
@ZSA_MD – It has been albout a year and a half. I think I didn’t have a full entry but just a picture of the pan and a mention that restoring it was on my to-do.
@alextebow – If it is well-seasoned, it shouldn’t be. You live so close to the ocean that your humidity is relatively high, too, right? I think the pan was prone to rusting because a well-meaning husband thought it was time to give it a good scrubbing and soak in soapy water.
@christao408 – Aaah, yes. I seem to remember doing that when I was a teenager to one of my mom’s dutch ovens… I really thought I was helping! Lesson learned.
Wow…that looks like a very old and rusty skillet! It’ll be interesting to show a photo of the kind of food being served in the coming days?
@christao408 – I don’t have a cast iron anything but I have a soup spoon! 😀
and i totally missed it. I think i knew you then. hope i did. any way, now you know.
I have a cast iron cornbread pan that I must try this on.
@MySecretLoveAffair – Is it the type of cornbread pan where the individual muffins are shapped like ears of corn? My mom had one of those. I would imagine the same process would work, but it might be a bit more difficult if it has those little ridges.
@ZSA_MD – I think you did. But no worries…
Just a thought…they told me that these pans are suppose to be seasoned…and rarely washed…wouldn’t the previous oil make the future food taste weird?
thanks for the lesson Chris; I’ve an old rusty pan here I’ll have to tackle when I take a breather
@Wangium – No, you wipe the oil out and you can rinse it with water and then promptly dry it. Much like a good wok, which is cleaned with only water and a bamboo brush, you don’t want the actual seasoned surface to be damaged, otherwise food will begin to stick to it.
@AppsScraps – Brent, I would have assumed you’d be the one to teach me this type of lesson. You’re the master of culinary tricks.
I grew up with cast iron skillets. My mom always just swished water in them and then set them on the stovetop to dry over heat. I remember once she burned something in one and had to really scrub it to get it cleaned (they never looked clean as far as I could tell) and then baked it with oil in it for a couple hours. It was good as new. She is still using them. Made the best pineapple upside-down cakes in them.
@murisopsis – See? Proof of my methods… =)
My mother loved buying old cast iron and aluminum revereware pans at garage sales and thrift stores. The aluminum pans not so safe though. She always cleaned them in the self cleaning oven. Be sure to remove most stuck on food of course. Works great. Here’s a link to a bunch of people who have done it. No more scrubbing. http://whatscookingamerica.net/Information/SelfCleanOven.htm
@socaltransplant – We had that revereware growing up; great stuff.
Cast Iron skillets are too much work for me. 😛 I love those last two shots! Very dramatic.
@brooklyn2028 – I’ve felt that way, too. But I really, really like the way they retain and even heat.